This low-carb, Italian-inspired dish has so much going for it! The filling for these Italian Stuffed Zucchini Boats has lean ground turkey and fresh veggies, all topped with melted cheese and toasted bread crumbs. Less guilt but tons of flavor.
These Italian Stuffed Zucchini Boats have changed my feelings when it comes to Italian food. And, I have some pretty serious feelings on the subject. That’s kind of a big deal, isn’t it?
When I crave Italian I immediately think of rigatoni, spaghetti, penne, or how about ravioli in a tomato cream sauce sprinkled with plenty of fresh basil and shaved Parmesan. I mean, come on!
I never thought I could get the same level of serious contentment and satisfaction with a dish that doesn’t involve pasta.
That changed when I tried stuffing zucchini with a delicious mixture of lean ground turkey, onion, garlic, red bell pepper, cremini mushrooms, all simmered with a simple jarred marinara. Okay, so there is cheese on top, but I went with part-skim mozzarella and just enough Parmesan to add a sharp, salty bite.
Loaded with nutrition and all in all, pretty darn good for ya!
Be sure to watch the quick how-to video in the recipe card below for my tips on how to cleanly and easily scoop the zucchini and prepare the filling.
Another great aspect of this tasty stuffed zucchini – there’s really no need to prepare a separate veggie side dish. By all means, you can, but this dish is a vegetable and entrée all in one. Add a simple side like rice and a glass of big, bold red wine and I’m a happy girl.
If you like these, you’re going to love my Taco Stuffed Zucchini Boats!
Italian Stuffed Zucchini Boats
- 3 medium, uniformly-sized zucchini
- 24 to 26 ounce jar tomato basil marinara, divided
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound lean ground turkey or beef
- ⅓ cup diced onion
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- ⅓ cup chopped red bell pepper
- ½ cup chopped brown button (cremini) mushrooms
- ¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon salt
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
- 1 ½ cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
- ¼ cup shaved or shredded Parmesan
- 2 tablespoons Italian style panko bread crumbs
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Measure out 1 cup of the marinara sauce and set aside.
- Trim ends from zucchini and slice in half, lengthwise. Use the tip of a spoon to scrape out the zucchini flesh (see recipe note), chop it and set it aside. Place the scooped out zucchini boats into a 13- x 9-inch baking dish and add about 1-inch of water. Cover with foil and bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, until just slightly fork-tender. Remove from oven, and set aside to cool slightly.
- Meanwhile, add olive oil to a 12-inch skillet and place over MEDIUM heat. Add turkey (or beef), onion, bell pepper, and garlic to the skillet. Cook, stirring to break up the ground meat as it cooks. Continue to cook and stir until meat is thoroughly cooked and veggies have softened. Drain off as much grease as possible and return the skillet to the heat.
- Add the chopped zucchini flesh, mushrooms, remaining marinara in jar (reserve 1 cup for later), parsley, Italian seasoning, salt, fresh ground black pepper, and crushed red pepper. Stir well to combine. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat and allow to simmer over low heat for about 15 minutes.
- Remove partially cooked zucchini from baking dish and pour off water. Pour the 1 cup of reserved marinara sauce into the empty baking dish and place zucchini boats on top of the sauce.
- Divide the filling between the zucchini boats. If you have extra filling, spoon it into the dish around the zucchini boats. Cover the dish with foil, and bake for 20 minutes, or until zucchini is fork tender. Remove dish from oven and set oven to BROIL.
- Remove foil and sprinkle zucchini boats with mozzarella, Parmesan and the panko bread crumbs. Place dish in oven, watching closely, and cook for just a couple of minutes until cheese has melted and bread crumbs are golden brown.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated using generic ingredients, and is an estimate not a guarantee. For more accurate results, please refer to the labels on your ingredients at home.
Questions and Reviews
I made this & we all loved it. I would use a little less Italian seasoning next time. I used sugar free pasta sauce instead of marinara. I didn’t use the bread crumbs but it was fantastic anyway. I’ll definitely make this again!
We made this recipe “unstuffed” and did it in a skillet on the stovetop. Just chopped the zucchini and left out the breadcrumbs. Delicious and faster!! Thanks for the yummy recipe. :0)
Fabulous idea, Kathy!
Addendum to previous comment: Thank you for including nutrition info! I’m on WW and was easily able to calculate the points!
You got it!
Made this last night for my daughter and grandkids (ages 9, 14, & 17); it was a big hit – everyone loved it! I used 1/2# hot Italian sausage (for flavor)and 1# ground turkey (more healthy) instead of the ground beef. Didn’t measure the veggies and ended up with enough stuffing for 8 zucchini boats. I will definitely make this again. Thanks for the great recipe!
So glad it worked out well for you, Tracy 🙂
I tried your Stuffed Zucchini boat recipe tonight but substituted homemade sauce for the store bought. My husband and I loved it! I used a 14″ zucchini and had 1/2 left for another night! Thanks for a great recipe!
Love this recipe a lot, one of the first dishes I ever made on my own. Was just wondering if there was a way to make this recipe gluten free.
I have made this several times and absolutely love it!! FYI….I found it helpful to use a grapefruit spoon to scoop out the zucchini flesh
Just made this! So good! I served it with farro with the extra stuffing and sauce on top! Thank you for the great idea.
We absolutely loved this and will be making it often. I think my zucchini were really young because getting the flesh out was tricky – but I managed it. I also threw in some old spinach that had been sitting too long in the fridge. It was so good!
Love the addition of spinach! Thanks for your comment, Kelly. 🙂
Hello ,just tooted in first time ,how wonderful to see all the comments , I have some raised beds am growing squash seeds from Italy a rigid like zucchini from Napoli it is nutty crunchy Wonderfull ,someone asked about grilling the squash ,Yes U can cut in half brush with olive oil I use California in a green glass bottle ,beats all those big name blends and USA ,a little salt pepper place on hot grill away from flame cover with a loose foil or close lid about 5 minutes remove cool cut flesh cross wise both ways ,little squares , scoop and proceed wit recipe ,add a little dry white wine to sauce taste all as you proceed add a little dis dat taste when you like flavor proceed ,also great wit a Alfredo sauce but add extra parma and ramano ,,,,eat well .
Instead of using a spoon to scrape out the zucchini flesh, I use an apple corer and it works quite well.
Could you substitute cheddar cheese for the mozerella or will it make it taste bad?
You can substitute any cheese you’d like, Lexie, however I do think the mozzarella is the best choice when paired with pasta sauce.
Thank you Valerie for the recipe. I used ground lamb instead of Turkey. My family loved them alot! I made seasoned white rice as a side. Yummy!